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News: This Month in GCA History - January


January 23, 2018

Thousands of public and private gardens have been lost through the years due to natural disasters, development, changes in taste, and economics. From its earliest days, The Garden Club of America mounted a campaign to keep a record of America’s gardens so that the beauty of their design, the details of their plants, and their historic significance would be preserved for generations to come. In 1914, the Historic Gardens Committee of the GCA was formed and charged with documenting American gardens. From 1920-35, more than 2,000 glass lantern slides of gardens were commissioned. These slides were the basis of the GCA publication, Gardens of Colony and State by Alice G.B. Lockwood, a two-volume set defining America’s garden heritage, published in 1931 and subsequently republished. In 1991, Eleanor Weller and Mac Griswold published the enlightening book, The Golden Age of American Gardens, also using this collection as source material.

In 1987, 3,000 glass lantern slides and more than 22,000 35mm slides were given to the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Gardens (AAG) in celebration of the GCA’s 75th anniversary. The collection officially became part of the Smithsonian’s Horticulture Services Division (now Smithsonian Gardens) in 1992. The Smithsonian opened the AAG Research Station in January 1994, making this important collection more accessible to researchers and garden enthusiasts. The scope of The Garden Club of America Collection at the AAG continues to grow, thanks to the documentation of historic and contemporary gardens of all kinds by members of the GCA. The collection presently contains approximately 60,000 images.


Photo caption:

L-R: James Buckler, Director of the Smithsonian’s Office of Horticulture; Mrs. Frank M. Donahue, GCA President 1985-87; Eleanor Weller, GCA Slide Committee Chairman; Robert McCormick Adams, Jr., Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


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